What Should a First Aid Kit Contain?

What Should a First Aid Kit Contain?
The trip of a lifetime can be forever remembered for the wrong reasons due to minor illnesses and injuries. The inclusion of a first aid kit on your packing list can provide a significant amount of physical and mental relief when needed.


A first aid kit should aid in the prevention of illness, help manage existing medical conditions, and address minor health problems that may develop.

General First Aid Supplies

A first aid kit should contain items to treat minor health issues that develop as well as provide immediate life-saving treatment of more serious injuries until more qualified emergency personnel can take over. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that these items should include: disposable gloves (two pairs), adhesive bandages (various sizes), gauze pads, adhesive cloth tape, roller bandage, antiseptic pads, cotton swabs, tweezers, scissors, antibacterial ointment, antifungal ointment, hydrocortisone (1%) cream, sunburn ointment (aloe-based), moleskin, thermometer (digital or non-mercury), eye drops, and a first-aid reference card.


Any medications (prescription or over-the-counter) being taken for an underlying condition should be brought in a quantity sufficient to cover the duration of the trip and possible delays in returning. Over-the-counter medications packed in a first aid kit should include pain and fever reducers such as aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen; anti-diarrheals, laxatives and antacids; antihistamines, decongestants and throat lozenges. Electrolyte solution packs (i.e., Gatorade or a similar product) should be carried to aid in rehydration. Remember to include destination-specific medications such as antimalarial drugs and motion sickness medications. If there is a history of severe allergic reactions, bring epinephrine with an auto-injector.

Preventive Items

Include items that will prevent illness and injury such as sun block (SPF 15 or higher), lip balm, insect repellent, hand sanitizer, water purification tablets or filter, and mild sleep aids.

Emergency Contact Information

Create an emergency contact card to be carried with you at all times. This card should contain contact information for a close friend, family member or work supervisor in your home country, a health care provider, and your home country's nearest embassy or consulate. If possible, the phone number and address for a hospital or clinic in the area where you will be traveling should be included.


Keep in mind that not all medications in your home country may be allowed at your destination, and vice versa. Check with the destination country's embassy or consulate to ensure that your medications won't be confiscated on arrival. Bring any prescription medications in their originally labeled bottles. An extra prescription and a note on letterhead paper from your home health care provider allows for quicker replacement of lost medications. Also, bear in mind that a first aid kit should be carried with you even in flight. Check with transportation regulations to ensure that items included in your first aid kit are permitted as carry-on items.

Article Written By David Chandler

David Chandler has been a freelance writer since 2006 whose work has appeared in various print and online publications. A former reconnaissance Marine, he is an active hiker, diver, kayaker, sailor and angler. He has traveled extensively and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida where he was educated in international studies and microbiology.

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